By Lori Cathey
Gibson County Lady Pioneer basketball coach Mitch Wilkins made history by winning his 900th career game Dec. 20 at Bo Booth Gymnasium in Dyer. The Lady Pioneers defeated Sikeston, Mo. 65-34 in the first round of the GCHS Point Guard Christmas Tournament to give Wilkins the milestone win.
After the game, senior Jaci White presented Wilkins with the game ball. Wilkins also received a jersey with number 900 and Wilkins on the back his family.
The 900 coaching victories are a combination of his 43 years of coaching boys’ basketball teams as well as his six years of coaching the Gibson County girls’ basketball team. He accepted the Gibson County High School girls’ basketball coaching position six years ago and has a record of 175-39.
Wilkins began his track to 900 in 1976 by taking a head coaching job at Parma, Mo. where he recorded a 40-32 record before moving to Kelley, Mo. for four years for an 84-21 record. From 1983 to 2006, he coached at Troy Buchanan, Mo. where he won 498 games. In 2006, he moved to Tennessee to coach at Henry County.
Wilkins credits much of his success being with programs with hard working players who put in the extra time and have the passion to play the game. But a lot of the credit goes to his wife Jane who has always supported him in everything that he has done.
He has 19 Coach of the Year awards, ranks as sixth on the all-time career win list in the state of Missouri, made four final four appearances in the Missouri State Basketball Finals, five National Shoot Out appearances, has 18 district titles and was inducted into the Missouri Basketball Coaches Hall of Fame in 2003.
In his six seasons as head coach at Gibson County, Wilkins has guided the Lady Pioneers to a state runner-up trophy, three district championships, five region tournament appearances and two sub-state games. He was named 2015 Coach of the Year.
Wilkins has a 74-percent winning average, with only four losing seasons over his career. At press time, Wilkins had a 902-316 career record.